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History General

Against the Tides

Reshaping Landscape and Community in Canada’s Maritime Marshlands

by (author) Ronald Rudin

UBC Press
Initial publish date
Nov 2021
General, General, Environmental Policy, Atlantic Provinces (NB, NL, NS, PE)
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Nov 2021
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2021
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2022
    List Price

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For four centuries, dykes held back the largest tides in the world, in the Bay of Fundy region of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. These dykes turned salt marsh into arable land and made farming possible, but by the 1940s they had fallen into disrepair. Against the Tides is the never-before-told story of the Maritime Marshland Rehabilitation Administration (MMRA), a federal agency created in 1948 to reshape the landscape. Although agency engineers often borrowed from long-standing dykeland practices, they were so convinced of their own expertise that they sometimes disregarded local conditions, marginalizing farmers in the process. The engineers’ hubris resulted in tidal dams that compromised some of the region’s rivers, leaving behind environmental damage. This book is a vivid, richly detailed account of a distinctive landscape and its occupants, revealing the push–pull of local and expert knowledge and the role of the state in the postwar era.

About the author

Ronald Rudin is a professor in the Department of History and co-director of the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling at Concordia University. His most recent book, Remembering and Forgetting in Acadie, received both the US National Council on Public History Book Award and the Public History Prize of the Canadian Historical Association.

Ronald Rudin's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Concise, perceptive, concrete yet conceptual, Against the Tides comes ready for use."

American Review of Canadian Studies

"An articulate and readable contribution to the literature on postwar environmental engineering by the Canadian state, the book highlights compelling local stories and perspectives, placing them into national and international context."

Journal of New Brunswick Studies

[Against the Tides] is a timely read with climate change and rising sea levels tilting waters back into the marshlands.

The Canadian Historical Review

Against the Tides is a skillful examination of distinctive landscapes and histories...[it] is also an illustration of the potential of community-involved scholarship and a powerful reminder of how audiovisual materials can enrich research dissemination efforts.


“… accounts such as Rudin’s are important. They highlight how easy it is to lose sight of long-term goals, and how challenging it can be to still make different choices despite knowing past history. And it calls forth the real underlying question: whose knowledge matters?”

The Miramichi Reader

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